I encountered a social dilemma the other day after stopping at a fast-food place to get lunch at the drive-thru window.

Once I had re-entered traffic, I put a straw into the drink cup, then lifted it to get a sip. That’s when the top shifted, opened at one side, and spilled soda onto my pants.

Hurling a few invectives into the air, I knew I had only myself to blame. I had forgotten the First Rule Of Drive-Thru Food: check everything before you leave the window. From experience, I know that they don’t always get the order right (“I said no onions, dammit!”) and often, in their haste, fail to attach the drink lid properly to the cup.

I couldn’t go back in time and change that, so now I had to deal with it. I was on my way to an appointment, but it was only a few minutes away. When I arrived in the parking lot, I looked down and saw that the crotch of my pants was still obviously wet. Surely, I couldn’t go into my appointment like that. I dabbed at the spot with some napkins, but then worried that a passerby might observe this behavior and interpret it as something less innocent.

Damn. I didn’t have time to go home and change. I thought about rolling down all the windows and driving around for a few minutes, hopeful that the air would help dry me out — but as a horrific hay fever sufferer, I wasn’t willing to trade my ability to breathe, which would be severely curtailed by even a few minutes exposure to St. Louis’ legendarily pollen-laden atmosphere.

So I tried turning on the air-conditioning in the car and pointing all of the louvers at my seat in an effort to dry the pants more quickly. That seemed to help. After several minutes, I decided I was dry enough to exit the car and proceed to my appointment. I wasn’t worried about a stain because very few people are stealing glances at the crotch of a fat middle-aged bald guy, so it was unlikely they’d notice. Wet spot, yes. Discoloration, no.

I was right. Once I got inside, no one said anything, nor did they seem to notice anything was wrong, and everything went well at the meeting.

And I re-learned an important lesson — always wear dark pants when you use the drive-thru window at a fast-food place.